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What Does It Mean to Be a Woman Leader?

Essay by   •  February 27, 2014  •  Book/Movie Report  •  3,151 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,135 Views

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Erin Brockovich

What does it mean to be a leader today? Do you think that only certain women are destined for a leadership role? There are three core qualities to leadership: authenticity, self-expression, value creation. "Authenticity" refers to a link between the inner and the outer person. Truly authentic leaders are open to both their gifts and their underdeveloped qualities. People who understand who they are then to have a more powerful voice--and to make a more profound contribution to an enterprise. (LaBarre, 2004) I believe that Brockovich has these three qualities of leadership and is a woman we should look up to as her story was turned into an inspirational motion picture that illustrates that even an ordinary human being can succeed in life if they have enough drive and willpower. Brockovich had her back against the wall, her only option was to push forward and fight for her family's survival. It was her curiosity that led to the tipping point in her life, but most importantly, her determination, hard work ethic, and perseverance allowed her to prove to people in her life that she was capable of making a difference in today's society.

Brockovich takes pride in the work she does. She relies on her gut instinct and holds her ground. Her self-awareness is more accurate knowing what she knows as she has made mistakes in her past and knows she has not been the best judge of character for her children. But above all she holds herself accountable and lives with a high level of integrity. Doing the right thing at all times is important to Brockovich and her leadership values and vision express that.

Brockovich was able to bring out significant change in her employer and all the parties involved in the PG&E law suit because she displayed drive, purpose, and the eagerness to learn. Her hard work, dedication towards the case, and her willingness to never give up inspired people around her to keep fighting for what was right. Her leadership vision stems from her need to prove herself.

Brockovich doesn't have a college education but as the film shows; with confidence and persistence, any goal can be achieved. For some reason, many women are afraid to display confidence and assertiveness-perhaps they worry that it can be mistaken for arrogance-unlike their male counterparts who embrace it. And we all know, of course, that confidence is one of the big factors contributing to successful leadership. (Cohen, 2010) Brockovich had the confidence in herself when she first met with the stuffy women lawyer who was underestimating Brockovich's abilities and criticizing her work for not having all the facts. But in the end, the stuffy lawyer performed poorly because she did not know how to personally relate with the clients. She, unlike Brockovich, didn't have the social or interacting skills to be attached to their clients. Brockovich earned their trust and was extremely affected and concerned with the welfare of the victims involved. The stuffy lawyer had no compassion or concern to the residents but was more focused on the fact that they were fighting against a big corporation. Brockovich's personal values along with her vision allowed her to bring a huge significant change in people around her, and as a result of that people began to follow her. Brockovich's interest and passion to dig deeper into the PG&E case eventually developed into the largest direct-action lawsuit in history. This case highlights the true leader inside Brockovich as her values and personal vision enhanced the case and transformed her into a booming, intelligent, and trustworthy leader.

The leadership style, competencies, influence tactics, and communication strategies that Brockovich developed turned her life around and simultaneously made a difference for all the families affected in this law suit.

Brockovich used the sources of power at hand to be successful and she developed more sources of power as the movie and case progressed. Her listening skills allowed her to develop as a leader and gain further investigation regarding the law suit. In the end she proves that sometimes the hardest thing to do and the right thing to do are sometimes one in the same. She believed that good things come to those who work hard. I believe that Erin's leadership style is transformational because people did not follow her because of who she was but because of what she believed in. Brockovich didn't have a clue about what it took to be a lawyer and from the movie she definitely didn't dress appropriately for this legal profession. The one thing that she did have was a big personality with a straight forwardness attitude and profane language, but at the same time I saw that she had a tender and motherly side to her. Brockovich was able to build trust with people and make deposits into their "Emotional Bank Account". An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that's been built up in a relationship. When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.(Covey,2010) However, she displayed relentless drive and purpose towards the law suit against PG&E and throughout the process she increased her capacity to learn, manage tasks, and increase her self-awareness. These competencies transformed her into a leader.

While unconventional at times, Brockovich used the resources at her disposal to acquire the things she needed. For example she combined her appearance of being an "attractive' woman and her detachment from the legal field to get access to evidence at the water department and local university. She was so successful at getting evidence that Ed Masery her employer, and attorney began to believe in her capabilities. As Ed Masery began to believe in her, you saw that her coworkers at the law office did as well. As the case grew larger, Brockovich's passion and capacity to learn expanded. She was able to understand the politics of the legal field and developed a substantial amount of legal knowledge in the process.

She already gained the trust of her employer and was beginning to gain the trust of the people in the community which allowed her to bring out significant change in her followers.

For the first time in her life, she felt that people respected her and listened to what she had to say. Power and influence are two critical aspects to the success of Erin Brockovich. From the onset, she had zero expert power and had no legal experience. But she used what little leverage available to her to get what she wanted. Another example would be that Erin's charm and friendly character allowed her to organize the entire community around the law suit. Her ability to connect with the families in the law suit is crucial to her success. The power



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